ADITYA VAIBHAV | The TrickyScribe: Humanity is in lockdown. Wildlife creeps back into cities across the world. As humans stay indoors, wild animals take back what was once theirs. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, lockdowns are extended and restrictions on global travel continue to tighten, one of the industries hit hardest by the lack of travellers has been animal tourism. We look at COVID19 pandemic from the animal kingdom’s point of view.
Zoos Going Digital
For many zoos and aquariums, dearth of guests has both opened up and forced them down new avenues. Some are now holding live streams for the public, expanding interactions with zookeepers through spaces like Facebook Live, allowing their permanent animal residents to check in on some of their long-time neighbours.
Whole swaths of animal industries dependent on global tourism have been thrust into crisis mode, and many animal conservation efforts are facing uncertainty with the unprecedented decline in human and animal movement alike. The ensuing coronavirus lockdown is a threat for many animals like the mainstream industries, not a blessing!
Dependency on Conservation Critical
But while you might think a world without people would be great for animals, whether a species suffers or benefits from our absence depends on how dependent they are on human conservation efforts or upkeep of their habitat. The plucky blue bulls and wild boar will thrive in the absence of humans as they are adaptable and can eat a wide variety of things at a wide variety of places. The same doesn’t describe all species, however. Many endangered species require specific foods or environmental conditions.
So for example, a honeybee is a generalist that visits a wide variety of flowers for food, while a sunflower bee is more of a specialist. Honeybees are comfortable all over the world, while the Gulf Coast solitary bee sticks to dune habitats. A restricted range or food source—or both—makes life precarious in the age of widespread human meddling: Lose your habitat and you have nowhere else to go. And this is a particular danger when the people who used to protect your habitat are no longer able to go outdoors.
Little Effect of Lockdown on Wildlife Offences
Wildlife offences, where people have hunted or attempted to hunt wild animals that stray into human habitations, have not stopped. Neither will they in the near future. For restriction in such cases comes from awareness. And in many cases, through alternative livelihood arrangement. If sources are to be believed as many as 11 cases of wildlife offences have been lodged in Coimbatore in the past five weeks. All cases were reported in private or poramboke lands adjoining forest areas. Persons involved in these offences either hunted or attempted to trap animals like hares, wild boars and spotted deer.
Cash Crunch Forcing Villagers to Poach
Highly-placed Forest Department sources revealed that those involved in the poaching and poaching attempts could have committed the offence as they were without jobs at home, due to the lockdown. Meat of wild boars and spotted deer from the accused involved. Other cases were related to laying of snares for trapping hares, a species that is widely found in bushes and grasslands in rural areas and private lands lying close to forest. Like hares, wild boars and spotted deer too, stray into farm lands. Interestingly, the demand for animal meat shot up in rural areas when restrictions were imposed on the functioning of meat stalls as part of lockdown.